Daily question: Browser Wars, the good old days?


Douglas Crockford, senior JavaScript Architect at Yahoo!, father of JSON and the author of JavaScript: The Good Parts, gave a keynote address at the 2008 Frontend Engineering Summit at Yahoo! last week.

In this must-see video, Crockford meticulously outlined the history and the cost of painfully slow, still inconsistent, security-blind and pork-laden standardization processes. After stating:

The only thing worse
than where we were
is where we are.

he reached what will certainly be a disturbing conclusion for many “standards” advocates:


As counterintuitive as it may seem, for the web to move forward is what we need a new Browser War?

2 thoughts on “Daily question: Browser Wars, the good old days?

  1. Thanks for the great link!

    I can agree with both sides of the analysis, a war is needed to get the innovation but that doesn’t meen we should be happy with the prospect. I was always very amazed to learn in history lessons that the people in the early 1910’s were happy with the prospect of war. On an abstract level there might be some parallels.
    Late 19th Century showed an amazing amount of innovation. Steam engines powered trains, ships and industry allowing manufactured goods te be traded worldwide (and people to migrate over the world as well). As today “hardware” evolved faster than “software”: state governments and social structures in general were not able to cope with the pace of change. So early 20th people enjoyed hardware improvement but also felt it made the world unstable and understood structural changes would be needed as well. There was a general feeling war would bring relief to this tension. They were right for probably the exact same reasons as stated by Crockford: it doesn’t work to arrange major changes by committee.
    And history certainly does prove these principles right: by 1945 (or should I say 1989?) all the old fashioned structures were removed. Old monarchies and other authoritarian regimes were trashed away allowing for further technological innovation. And, boy, did it work! Late 20th Century innovation has been even more impressive than a century earlier.

    The only question remaining – and I don’t have an answer to that one – have the 20th Century wars been a fair price for the innovation reached afterward?

  2. I would say that we’re already in the middle if one, between webkit, mozilla, opera, and now chrome as well. I guess you could include IE in that if you’re beimg generous . The only intense front in the battle seems to be Javascript performance though. They are all getting better on standards support and implementing new things though. Hopefully the battle will spread to more areas soon.

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